“During the war, in order to remove the wounded from the battlefield and save them, the doctor must be able to fight”

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4th-year student of Yerevan State Medical University Arsen Harutyunyan volunteered to leave for Artsakh on September 28. He was involved in the detachment as a specialist in providing first aid, he was always where his detachment was. He came home five days ago, but is going to return to the battlefield again.

Arsen says that, on the battlefield, he always had a weapon in one hand and medical supplies in the other. Arsen is a resident of the Areni community of Vayots Dzor region, with roots in Artsakh. There are three doctors in his family: himself, his brother Haykaz and their father, Aram Harutyunyan, a doctor at the Areni Primary Health Care Center, who participated in the Artsakh war in 1988-1994. He left for Artsakh five times to save the homeland, as well as the defenders of the homeland.

“My brother, Haykaz, worked in Hadrut hospital, then joined the detachment as a doctor. Now I cannot say in which parts our detachment has been and what it did, but, I must say, I am amazed by the courage of 18-20 year-old boys; I can say that they are the most efficient and powerful soldiers,” Arsen tells Forrights.am and proudly adds that when the war is over, he will tell about the bravery and deeds he witnessed; now is not the time for it.

Arsen and his brother Haykaz have been fighting the coronavirus from April until the start of the war as volunteers, working in various medical institutions. Arsen says that he always followed his doctor-father’s professional advice, and before leaving for the battlefield, his father reminded him that he needed to be very vigilant, remembering that the doctor had to save his own life in order to be able to save the lives of others.

23-year-old Arsen, who had never seen a war before and had not worked in such conditions, says that he immediately went on his professional mission in the battlefield.

“When I first heard the voices addressed to me, ‘Doctor, there is a wounded man,’ I did not have time to think about anything else, I did not have the right to hesitate, I knew I had to orient myself very quickly, because every second could cost a life,” says Arsen and modestly agrees that our doctors are fearless warriors when they take weapons instead of medical supplies.

“I can say more: I used weapons more often than medical supplies. I was a doctor when we had wounded soldiers, and the rest of the time I was a soldier like everyone else. During a war, a doctor must often be able to fight to get the wounded out of the battlefield, to save them. Of course, I went through all that, and so, I must say that on the battlefield, a doctor is a soldier, as well as a doctor,” says Arsen.

Doctor Aram Harutyunyan, who went through the hardships of the war, talking about his sons, Arsen and Haykaz, says that they saw [what was going on] and did what they had to do. There is a need for Dr. Harutyunyan’s potential in the medical facility in the border town of Areni, which serves 7-8 surrounding communities, otherwise he would have left for the battlefield too. The doctor says that if at least one of his sons stayed at home, he would have left for Artsakh himself, but the sons assured that they could fulfill their professional and patriotic duty.

Dr. Harutyunyan says that before his sons left for the battlefield, he told them an episode from his military experience, which should be a lesson for the latter.

“In the 90s, during the hostilities, once the machine gun was about 15-20 meters away from me. I was alone in the gorge. I shot the machine gun. I thought we needed that machine gun desperately; it could be used by our forces. If I were only a soldier, I would probably go and, risking my life, take that machine gun, but if something happened to me, at least 11 wounded would be left without the necessary medical care. The lives of those 11 people were more important than the machine gun we desperately needed. Having said this, I said to my sons: ‘Remember, your life is not only yours. Your life is the life of the wounded. Remember, you are not going there to die; you are going there to win and live,” says Dr. Harutyunyan. “When I sent my youngest son to Artsakh too, I was left alone. I immediately visited my father’s and mother’s grave and said, ‘Now I understand better how you waited for me’. I apologized for making them to wait for me in those years. My brother’s grave is next to my parents’ grave․ His son is on the battlefield today. I said in front of my brother’s grave that his only son had gone to Artsakh with his cousins. I did not send them; they decided to go. They did what they should have done “․․․

The Harutyunyans have Artsakh roots. In the 90s, during the days of Artsakh’s struggle for survival, Dr. Harutyunyan took part in the defense of the village of Ghazanchi in the Martakert region, where his grandfather’s house was located, and which, unfortunately, was captured by the enemy.

“When we were retreating and the enemy captured the village of Ghazanchi, I set fire to my grandfather’s house so that the enemy would not desecrate it, so that they would not steal my grandparents’ things. I saw the enemy take out the things of all the houses in the village then set the houses on fire. The turn should have come to our house too. They took the looted items from Karabakh and say it was theirs.”

“I am sure that we have a wonderful generation. They fight better than us. My wish and desire are that the children of this generation, who are now fighting, have nothing to do on the battlefield anymore, that this last fight is victorious,” concluded Dr. Aram Harutyunyan.

Hasmik Baleyan